review by Neo

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A movie destroyed by too much plot???
Rarely and hardly do Neo dismisses a film for having too much plot, after all this is a HK movie site, how can movie be over-plotted? Man, you must think I am dead crazy, wait, didn't Neo liked movies with complicated plotlines like 2046? Then again, as you know, I constantly like to contradict myself. Clearly we all know that Benny Chan is a very commercial director, but that does not mean he can't make good movies, as he did in Heroic Duo, New Police Story, which he uses simple plotline to create fun and pretty good action movies. However, despite the packaging of Divergence of being a commercial flick, it is actually the opposite as people are casted against type and the more is far too complex in the never ending amount of plotline to make it logical and actually work. With a cast like this and the good production values and which the dependable Chan, how can this movie be so diverging?

The movie goes like this: CID Shing (Kwok) arrests the accountant of a money launderer. However, the accountant is assassinated upon his arrival in the Hong Kong airport. The killer (Wu) escapes without leaving any clues. While the masterminded laundry head (Lo) is happy about the soon resumption of his frozen assets for the death of his unfavorable witness, his fond son Xia is kidnapped suddenly. Shing is an ill-fated CID. He can't forget his loving girlfriend who disappeared 10 years ago and has not yet been found. During investigation, he finds a woman (Lee) who looks very much alike with his missing girlfriend. The woman is the wife of the lawyer (Cheng) who represents the laundry head. It raises his interest in the couple...

This is by no means a poor movie, but rather a movie that is neither commercial or independent forms, making it a film that is caught in the middle and resulting into instant confusion. What could have been a pretty good entertaining movie like Heroic Duo if Chan only concentrated in one of its subplot, rather than 4. However there are plenty of pros in this attempt, especially interesting to watch is Aaron Kwok for the first time play against type role. His normal stylish suit and tie and metro looking outlook is diminished to the maximum capacity with un-matching tie and suit and his unshaven look for the first time in a decade. This unfortunately does not result in good acting, as while Aaron tries to act his heart out, he is no Tony Leung Chiu Wai. His expressions are limited, but at the very least this is by far one of his better acting performances, although it is not saying much. On the other hand, Daniel Wu continues to show much continue in strong supporting roles, as he gave the character more than it deserves and his sly yet effective display here shows exactly why Neo praised him for his role in New Police Story last year. As for Ekin Cheng, this is one of his more serious role in recent years, after 3-4 years of romantic comedies and losing a fan base, Ekin is back in a more serious role, however, the results is mixed as either the script makes his role look silly or that it is just bad acting from Ekin. However, the best of the pack, must be Gallen Lo (a TVB superstar nowadays) shows that his years and experiences in TVB as the leading man has pay off and after a few years away from the big screen, this is his best performance yet and Neo is certainly hoping seeing more of him and Alex Fong later this year.

This movie is definitely one that tries hard to pull it off with a twist ending, but rather the effect is not emotional, but rather forced and perhaps this is due to the audience either not caring for its characters, or the script is just too thick for any sort of conclusion. However, the film get points from Neo for not using split personality to finish off the movie, and its attempt to raise questions about how the RICH can escape jail terms by employing great lawyers to get them off. Then again, it is also the downside the movie, as this point was never the focus apart from a bed scene with Angelica Lee and Ekin. This once again shows exactly what I say before that if only the movie focus more on one particular subplot. This lead to the problem of Angelica Lee having the same look as Aaron's long lost girlfriend, and when you see the movie you will feel that the ending just cheat its way through and the result is raising more questions than it ever can answer.

As usual for any Benny Chan movie, the visual is excellent and so is the production values, as well as the car chases and good use of flash backs, so really what went wrong? Well, we can't blame it on Ivy Ho who have scripted great scripts in the past, but we must blame someone, for thinking too much sub-plots. It is okay to have millions of subplot but when your movie is timed at 90 minutes, that's where the problem lies. This movie could well have been a good 3 hour movie, but with 90 minutes, it is just too undeveloped and the result really shows. With 2005 at such a bleak state with June in a few days, HK cinema is in great need of a Summer Blockbuster, with no more Infernal Affairs sequels and no Stephen Chow this year, we can only cross our fingers that the young guns of Edison, Jay and Shawn do not ruin Initial D. As for the year so far, no film has truly stand out and while I was hoping that Divergence will be the one, I am left pretty disappointed. But in a look at other 2005 films, this one pretty much stand there with the rest and therefore, while the movie mis-step in many ways, it is nonetheless, should be taken a look at the slight originality of the script and the casting against type can be interesting depending on who you are. Basically, Divergence is what I call a movie that attempts to do too much and unfortunately in this case it becomes a total mystery - as much as I want to like it, it just ultimately fails...

I rate it 7/10

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Genre: Drama/ Police/ Love/ Crime
Director: Benny Chan
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Aaron Kwok, Daniel Wu, Angelica Lee, Gallen Lo
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), May 2005